This month was the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta. There are only a handful of documents, which survive so long and still have an impact. It has also been shown repeatedly that health and freedom are related. People who live in free societies enjoy better health.
“In future no official shall place a man on trial upon his own unsupported statement without producing credible witnesses to the truth of it” is clause 38.
“No free man shall be seized or imprisoned or stripped of his right or possessions or outlawed or exiled …except by the lawful judgment of his equals or by the law of the land” is clause 39.
This essentially says that people are entitled to the presumption of innocence and that accusations must be proved. It is disturbing then to find that in Australia in 2015 there are 48 Federal laws in 13 acts of parliament which revere the onus of proof and require the accused to prove their innocence. And some 92 provisions in 55 acts restrict the right to natural justice.
As Benjamin Franklin observed it is not hard to complain. It is also very easy to accuse. The fact that an accusation is made does not mean that said accusation is correct. Yet we have arrived at a point where the tendency is to accept accusation and assume that the accused has done whatever someone has said they did.
There are a gaggle of tribunals and bodies with varying degrees of power where individuals can be denied representation and due process. These are bodies where the accuser is seen as a client and the accused as the enemy. In a court of law all are equal before the court and the role of the court is to discover the truth, not to act for one side.
The expanding victim industry thrives on finding smaller and smaller slights to find grievance with. And of course any words which somebody, somewhere chooses to take offence at can, see a rain of trolling come down on whoever muttered or tweeted them.
It is also notable that the Magna Carta was also about taxation and stopping the state from arbitrarily taking money off the citizens. In these days of calls for fat taxes or sugar taxes the value of this remains as valid as ever.
Yet there is an overarching message, which has resonated for 800 years and will continue to do so.
Brendan O’Neill writing in The Australian, best summed up the significance of the Magna Carta as establishing “that there was something bad in an overwhelming state and something good in letting individuals be”.
In health there is no shortage of experts wanting to tell you what to do. They are entitled to their views. They are not always right. In fact they are usually wrong. That is fine until coercion is introduced. When the latest fad pushed by experts is given the weight of the state it does not necessarily end well as we have seen with low fat diets.
The notion of “the right to be let alone” to live ones life as one sees fit whilst not infringing on others is as valid in 2015 as in 1215. Now as then freedom must be defended from those who would reduce it, especially when they claim to be acting in our best interests.
Dr Joe Kosterich M.B.B.S is an author, speaker, media presenter and health industry consultant, who wants you to be healthy and get the most out of life. He is a regular on TV – 9 Network Australia, and radio stations 6PR and 4BC as well as maintaining a website and this blog which provides health information. He is the health ambassador for locally grown fresh potatoes. Dr Joe also gives practical motivational health talks for the general public and organisations where he is known as “An independent doctor who talks about health”.